Early Music: Rare Music Manuscripts, Printed Music and Books from the Library of Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940)

Early Music: Rare Music Manuscripts, Printed Music and Books from the Library of Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940)

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 64. Lute. Highly important early seventeenth-century manuscript of Italian and French lute music in French tablature, c.1620.

Lute. Highly important early seventeenth-century manuscript of Italian and French lute music in French tablature, c.1620

Lot Closed

September 14, 02:06 PM GMT


120,000 - 180,000 GBP

Lot Details



Highly important early seventeenth-century manuscript of Italian and French lute music in French tablature, comprising some 320 pieces, INCLUDING THE LACHRIMAE PAVAN, JOHN DOWLAND'S MOST FAMOUS COMPOSITION AND THE MOST POPULAR PIECE OF MUSIC IN THE WHOLE OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

notated in brown ink by a single scribe, almost entirely in French lute tablature, on up to four six-line tablature staves per page, comprising mostly dances (including 99 courantes, 37 voltes, 35 galliards and 32 ballets), but also 3 fantasias (fols.260v-263r) and some French song movements, the identifiable composers of the mostly unattributed dances including Michelangelo Galilei (1575-1631), Daniel Bacheler (1572-1619), Robert Ballard (c.1575-after 1649), Jean-Baptiste Besard (1567-1625), Charles Bocquet (c.1570-before 1615), Diomedes Cato (1560 to 1565-after 1607 or 1618), John Dowland (1563-1625/6), Nicolas de la Grotte (c.1530-c.1600), Henri de L'Enclos (1592/3-1649), Charles de Lespine (?1580s-after 1627), Mercure d'Orléans (fl. c.1590-c.1619), Elias Mertel (c.1561-1626), René Mesangeau (late C16th-?early January 1638), Victor de Montbuisson (c.1575-after 1638), Julien Perrichon (1566-c.1600), Jakub Reys (c.1550-c.1605) and Nicolas Vallet (c.1583-after 1642), the manuscript containing some tuning charts (e.g. on fols.283r and 285r) and a number of cancellations (on fols.8r, 35r, 77r, 133v, 234r and 266v), the music continued on one page (fol.151r) on a handwritten stave in the lower margin 

285 leaves, oblong 8vo (c.15 x 18.3cm), the watermarks, incompletely described in the literature, including a crown surmounting a double-headed eagle over a shield enclosing the letters MB (?), type-set staves, modern ink foliation to lower outer corners, possibly contemporary Latin inscription to inside cover "Ignavia est iacere ubi possis surgere", early German inscription on free endpaper ("Der Herre Vnnd [?]..."), some later (dealer's?) pencil markings to lower pastedown ("...II 95"), Dolmetsch library stamp and pencil shelfmark ("Dolmetsch Library II B 1") to front pastedown, some modern pencil annotations, including tablature, on fols.259v-260r, presumably in Arnold Dolmetsch's hand, contemporary blind-stamped German pigskin binding, plausibly by the Federnelkenmeister binder of Cologne (c.1583-1619, EBDB w004758), three concentric roll-tooled leafy borders around a central panel with small corner and centre stamps, two later clasps with plaited straps, [probably Bavaria, c.1620], one leaf before fol.21 excised, first leaf on a guard and the leading edge strengthened, some worming, some light damp-staining, small marginal tears to fol.231 and fol.246 (slightly affecting text of latter), tear to last leaf expertly repaired, spine worn 




This spectacular manuscript, UNPUBLISHED IN ITS ENTIRETY, and probably Bavarian in origin, is written by the same scribe who wrote the lute book of Joannes Aegidius Berner von Rettenwert (1603-1663), a volume copied in Salzburg c.1623-1627 (and preserved now in Prague, Národní Muzeum - České Muzeum hudby: MS G.IV.18) that exhibits a considerable overlap in repertoire with the present manuscript (90 of the Dolmetsch manuscript's pieces are transmitted in the Prague source). Given that the ownership signature in the Prague volume appears to match the musical hand there, it is possible that the scribe in both manuscripts, whose hand is fluent and bears witness to evident musical training, was one and the same as Joannes Berner himself - one of whose residences, from 1643 on, was Schloss Anif, outside Salzburg. According to Suzanne Bloch, Dolmetsch himself considered that the volume had belonged to a nobleman 'whose secretary was of Italian background because in the copying of all the popular lute pieces in French tablature, he would revert at times to Italian script' (in an article published in 1904, Dolmetsch referred to the manuscript as 'a French MS., about 1600').

The treasure-house of music represented here, which in size dwarfs collections in the majority of lute manuscripts, comes from the transitional period between the stylistic epochs of the Renaissance and Baroque. There are many highlights in a volume which preserves no fewer than 320 pieces by some 26 identified composers. One composer of particular interest is the lutenist Michelangelo Galilei (1575-1631), son of the theorist and lutenist Vincenzo Galilei and brother of Galileo, who was active in Munich onwards from 1607, when he entered the service of the Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian I, working at the Munich Hofkapelle: he is the named composer of ten pieces in the volume (on fols.108v, 109r, 113v-114r, 151v-152v, 195v-196r, 203v-204r, 239v-240r, 280v-281r), and a few others can be assigned to him on the basis of concordances elsewhere. But undoubtedly the jewel of the manuscript, is Dowland's Lachrimae pavan (fols.225v-227v), one of two pieces by the great English lutenist found here (the other is the galliard on fols.92v-93r, his so-called 'Pipers Galliard'). Dowland's famous lute pavan, written in 1596, to which lyrics were later added ("Flow, my tears"), survives in over 100 manuscript and printed sources across Europe, testifying to its extraordinary popularity in the period up to fifty years after its composition. The intriguing version transmitted by the present manuscript is, as noted by the doyenne of lute studies, Diana Poulton, a highly simplified version. So popular did the lute song (or ayre) version become that Dowland would occasionally sign his name "Jo: dolandi de Lachrimae".

The collection is markedly influenced by the French style brisé (the performance convention whereby in many passages the notes of the treble and bass, for instance, were sounded successively, beginning with the bass), and includes a large number of courantes and voltes, the most common dance types of the period. French tablature is employed throughout with the exception of one sarabande (fol.56v), one courante (fols.249v-250r) and two other pieces (the courantes on fols.249ff. and fols.267vff.), which start in Italian tablature and then revert to French. So-called Renaissance tuning is required throughout, with the exception of a handful of numbers, including nos.315-319, 321 and 322, which employ the cordes avallées tuning as found in the Thesaurus Harmonicus (1603) of Jean-Baptiste Besard. The number of courses employed ranges from six to ten; in a couple of cases the tenth course is lowered to B♭.

Arnold Dolmetsch was of course inextricably linked with the lute, in reality as well as in the popular imagination, making his first instrument in 1893. Several instruments by him survive, including the ones he made for Diana Poulton.


1. fols.1r-6r Untitled; 2. fols.6v-9r Galliarde; 3. fols.9v-11r Galliarde Diomedes; 4. fols.11v-12r Courante; 5. fols.12v-13r Courante; 6. fols.13v-14r Courante; 7. fols.14v-15r Courante; 8. fols.15v-16r Courante; 9. fols.16v-17r Courante; 10. fols.17-18r Courante; 11. fols.18v-19r Courante; 12. fols.19v-20r Courante; 13. fols.20v-21r Courante; 14. fols.21v Courante; 15. fols.22r Ballet; 16. fols.22v-23r Courante; 17. fols.23v-25r Pavana; 18. fols.25v-26r Pavana Alterij toni; 19. fol.26v Pavana alterij toni; 20. fol.27r Pavana Toni priori; 21. fols.27v-28r Passomezo; 22. fols.28v-29r Passomezo; 23. fols.29v-30r Saltarello; 24. fol.30v Courante Anglum; 25. fol.31r Galliarde; 26. fols.31v-32r Ballet Lepin; 27. fols.32v-33r Courante; 28. fol.33v Courante; 29. fol.34r Courante; 30. fols.34v-35v Ballet de Lepin; 31. fols.36r-37r Courante de Lepin; 32. fols.37v-38r Ballet; 33. fols.38v-39r Ballet [Elias Mertel]; 34. fols.39v-40r Courante F. R. H.; 35. fols.40v-41r Galliante; 36. fols.41v-42r Courante; 37. fols.42v-43r Courante la Vallette; 38. fols.43v-44r Courante; 39. fols.44v-45r Courante; 40. fols.45v-46r Courante; 41. fols.46v-47r Courante; 42. fols.47v-48r Courante; 43. fols.48v-49r Courante; 44. fols.49v-50r Courante; 45. fols.50v-51r Courante; 46. fols.51v-52r Volte; 47. fols.52v-53r Courante; 48. fols.53v-55r Courante; 49. fols.55v-56r Sarabanda; 50. fol.56v Sarabanda; 51. fol.57r Sarabanda; 52. fols.57v-58r Sarabanda; 53. fols.58v-59r Courante; 54. fols.59v-60r Courante; 55. fols.60v-61r Courante; 56. fols.61v-62r Courante; 57. fol.62v Courante; 58. fol.63r Courante; 59. fols.63v-64r Courante du Sieur Mesengeau; 60. fols.64v-65r Courante; 61. fols.65v-66r Courante; 62. fols.66v-67v; 63. fol.68r Courante; 64. fols.68v-69r Courante; 65. fols.69v-71r Galliarde; 66. fols.71v-73r Galliarde; 67. fols.73v-74r Galliarde; 68. fols.74v-75r Galliarde; 69. fols.75v-76r Galliarde; 70. fols.76v-78r Gall[iarde]; 71. fols.78v-80r Galliarde; 72. fols.80v-83r Galliarde; 73. fols.83v-84r Galliarde; 74. fols.84v-85r Galliarde; 75. fols.85v-86r Fin de Galliarde; 76. fols.86v-87r Fin de Galliarde; 77. fols.89v-90r Galliarde; 78. fol.90v Galliarde; 79. fol.91r Galliarde; 80. fols.91v-92r Galliarde G. Barodi colon:; 81. fols.92v-93r Galliarde [Dowland's 'Pipers Galliard']; 82. fols.93v-94r Galliarde; 83. fols.94v-95r Galliarde; 84. fols.95v-96r Galliarde [Bacheler]; 85. fols.96v-97r Galliarde [Montbuisson]; 86. fols.97v-98r Galliarde; 87. fol.98v Galliarde; 88. fol.99r Galliarde; 89. fols.99v-100r Galliarde [Francis Cutting or Richard Allison?]; 90. fols.100v-101r Galliarde; 91. fols.101v-102r Galliarde; 92. fols.102v-104r Galliarde Tambourina; 93. fol.104v Volte Tambourina; 94. fol.105r Volte; 95. fols.105v-106r Volte; 96. fols.106v-107r Volte; 97. fol.107v Volte; 98. fol.108r Volte; 99. fol.108v Volte Galilei; 100. fol.109r Volte Eiusde[m]; 101. fols.109v-110r Volte; 102. fols.110v-111r Volte; 103. fols.111v-112r Volte; 104. fols.112v-113r Volte; 105. fols.113v-114r Volte Galilei; 106. fols.114v-115r Volte; 107. fols.115v-116r Volte Mercurij; 108. fols.116v-117r Volte; 109. fol.117v Volte; 110. fol.118r Volte; 111. fols.118v-119r Volte; 112. fols.119v-120r Volte; 113. fols.120v-121r Volte; 114. fols.121v-122r Volte; 115. fol.122v Volte; 116. fol.123r Volte; 117. fol.123r Volte; 118. fol.124v Volte; 119. fols.124r Volte; 120. fols.124v-125r Ballet; 121. fol.125v Ballet; 122. fol.126r Ballet; 123. fols.126v-127r Ballet; 124. fols.127v-128r Ballet; 125. fols.128v-129r Ballet; 126. fol.129 Ballet; 127. fol.130r Ballet; 128. fol.130v Ballet d[escant?] [Robert Johnson]; 129. fol.131r Ballet B[assus?]; 130. fol.131v Ballet d[escant?]; 131. fol.132r Ballet B[assus?]; 132. fols.132v-133r Ballet; 133. fols.133v-134r Ballet; 134. fol.134v Ballet [Pierre Guédron]; 135. fol. 135r Ballet; 136. fols.135v-136r Ballet; 137. fols.136v-137r Ballet; 138. fol.137v Ballet; 139. fol.138r Ballet; 140. fol.138v Ballet; 141. fol.139r Ballet [Mercure]; 142. fols.139v-140r Ballet; 143. fols.140v-141r Intrada; 144. fols.141v-142r Intrada; 145. fols.142v-143r Intrada; 146. fol.143r Intrada; 147. fols.143v-144r Intrada; 148. fols.144v-145r Intrada polonica; 149. fols.145v-146r Intrada; 150. fols.146v-147r Intrada; 151. fol.147v Intrada; 152. fol.148r Intrada; 153. fols.148v-149r Intrada anglicana; 154. fols.149v-150r Passomezo; 155. fols.150v-151r Passomezo; 156. fols.151v-152r Passomezo Galilei; 157. fol.152v Saltarello Eiusde[m]; 158. fol.153r Saltarello aliud; 159. fol.153v Passomezo [J.-B. Besard]; 160. fol.154r Aliud eiusde[m]; 161. fol.154v Passomezo; 162. fol.155r Saltarello; 163. fols.155v-156r Passomezo; 164. fols.156v-157r Passomezo; 165. fols.157v-158r Passomezo; 166. fol.158r Saltarello; 167. fol.158v Aperta mente; 168. fol.159r Hor che vage; 169. fol.159v Chi mi sente; 170. fol.160r Chi mira gli occhi toui; 171. fols.160v-161r Mentrio compai; 172. fol.161v Queste dolce Serene; 173. fol.162r Ide[m]; 174. fol.162v Napolitana; 175. fol.163r Napolitana; 176. fols.163v-164r Passomezo; 177. fols.164v-165r Passomezo; 178. fols.165v-166r Passomezo; 179. fol.166r Saltarello; 180. fols.166v-167r Passomezo; 181. fols.167v-168r Passomezo; 182. fols.168v-169r Saltarello; 183. fols.169v-171r Passomezo; 184. fol.171r Saltarello; 185. fols.171v-173r Passomezo; 186. fol.173v Saltarello; 187. fols.174r Passomezo; 188. fols.174v-175r Passomezo [J.-B. Besard]; 189. fols.175v-176r Passomezo; 190. fols.176v-177r Passomezo; 191. fols.177v-178r Passomezo; 192. fols.178v-179r Le Testame[n]t de Perrichon; 193. fol.179v Courante de la Grotte; 194. fol.180r Response a la Pre[ce]dente [?]; 195. fols.180v-181r Courante; 196. fols.181v-182v Courante du Sieur de la Grotte; 197. fol.183r Courante la Vignone; 198. fols.183v-184v Courante de Gauthier; 199. fol.185r Autre [courante] de mesme ton; 200. fols.185v-186r Autre [courante] du mesme ton; 201. fol.186v Autre [courante] du mesme ton; 202. fol.187r Courante; 203. fols.187v-188r La Poulnoise; 204. fols.188v-189r Ballet La Cloris; 205. fols.189v-190r La Bontade de Ballard; 206. fols.190v-191r Courante; 207. fols.191v-192r Les grands Ballets du Roy; 208. fol.192v Ballet; 209. fol.193r Gall:; 210. fols.193v-194r Canaries; 211. fol.194v Philis; 212. fol.195r Galliarde; 213. fols.195v-196r Volte d Galilei; 214. fols.196v-197r Courante; 215. fols.197v-198r Allemand; 216. fols.198v-199r Allemand; 217. fol.199v Allemand; 218. fol.200r Allemand; 219. fol.200v Allemand; 220. fol.201r Allemand; 221. fols.201v-203r Galliarda Passionata; 222. fol.203v Volte d Galilei; 223. fol.204r Volte eiusde[m]; 224. fol.204v Volte; 225. fol.205r Courante; 226. fol.205v Courante D.G.; 227. fol.206r Allemand; 228. fols.206v-207r Allemand; 229. fols.207v-208r Follie; 230. fols.208v-209r Capricio; 231. fols.209v-210r Ballet; 232. fols.210v-211r Courante Balars; 233. fols.211v-212v Branle; 234. fols.212v-213r Courante Balard; 235. fols.213v-214r Courante Balard; 236. fol.214v La Favorite; 237. fol.215r La pincante; 238. fols.215v-216r Courante Gothier; 239. fols.216v-217r Courante; 240. fols.217v-218r Courante; 241. fols.218v-219r Courante; 242. fols.219v-220r Courante; 243. fol.220v La Guymbarde; 244. fol.221r La dumitre courante; 245. fols.221v-222r Courante; 246. fols.222v-223r Courante; 247. fols.223v-224r Courante; 248. fols.224v-225r Courante; 249. fols.225v-227v Pavana lacrymae [Dowland]; 250. fols.228r-231r Bergamasco; 251. fol.231v Branle 1; 252. fol.232r Branle 2; 253. fol.232v Branle 3; 254. fol.233r Branle 4; 255. fol.233v-234r Pavana Vrsina [Valentin Strobel]; 256. fol.234v Branle 5; 257. fol.235r Branle 6; 258. fol.235v Courante; 259. fol.236r Courante; 260. fols.236v-237r Passomezo Courante; 261. fols.237v-238r Ballet; 262. fol.238v Courante; 263. fol.239r Courante; 264. fols.239v-240r Courante Galilei; 265. fol.240v Sarabanda; 266. fol.241r Sarabanda; 267. fols.241v-242r Pavanne dangleterre; 268. fols.242v-243r Vn Jour de la semaine; 269. fols.243v-244r La Mariniere; 270. fols.244v-245r Posso morir; 271. fols.245v-246r Courante; 272. fol.246v Courante; 273. fol.247r Courante; 274. fols.247v-248r Taned Spolski; 275. fols.248v-249r Courante de la complainte; 276. fols.249v-250r Courante; 277. fol.250v Courante; 278. fol.251r La Robinelle; 279. fols.251v-252r Courante; 280. fols.252v-253r Courante; 281. fols.253v-254r Courante; 282. fol.254v Courante; 283. fol.255r Courante cruelle bergere; 284. fols.255v-256r La maturine; 285. fols.256v-257r Volte de la complainte; 286. fols.257v-258r Volte; 287. fols.258v-259r Lecarusel[?]; 288. fols.259v-260r Courante; 289. fols.260v-261v Fantasia; 290. fol.262r Fant:; 291. fols.262v-263r Fant: [J.-B. Besard]; 292. fols.263v-264r Fuga; 293. fols.264v-265r Courante; 294. fols.265v-266r Courante; 295. fols.266v-267r Courante [La Barre]; 296. fols.267v-268r Courante [P.P. Melli]; 297. fols.268v-269r Courante [Melli]; 298. fol.269v Volte [Melli]; 299. fol.270r Courante [Melli]; 300. fols.270v-271r Volte; 301. fol.271v Courante; 302. fol.272r Courante; 303. fol.272v Volte Gothier sine quinta; 304. fol.273r Courante Gothier; 305. fols.273v-274r Courante [Italian tablature]; 306. fols.274v-275r Courante; 307. fols.275v-276r Courante; 308. fols.276v-277r Courante Lepin; 309. fol.277v Cour: Lepin; 310. fol.278r Courante Gothier; 311. fols.278v-279r Courante; 312. fols.279v-280r Passomezo G.M.; 313. fol.280r Saltarello; 314. fols.280v-281r Intrada Galilei; 315. fols.281v-282v Passomezo corder avalles; 316. fol.282v Branle a corde avalle; 317. fol.283r Branle a corde avalle; 318. fol.283v Courante a corde avalle; 319. fol.284 Lamenta[tio] a corde avalle; 320. fol.284v Untitled; 321. fol.285r Untitled; 322. fol.285v Untitled, incomplete

We are pleased to acknowledge the kind assistance of John H. Robinson and Professor Tim Crawford in our cataloguing of this lot.


RISM B VII, pp.131; Suzanne Bloch, 'Saga of a 20th-century lute pioneer', Journal of the Lute Society of America, ii (1969), pp.37-43; Diana Poulton, 'The Dolmetsch Library, Haslemere, MS II B.1: a preliminary study', The Consort, no.35 (1979), pp.327-41; John H. Robinson, 'A Description of MS II.C.23 (the Medici Lute Manuscript) in the Dolmetsch Library and a Summary of Modern Studies', LSA Quarterly (Autumn 2009), p.15


Private library of the Dolmetsch Foundation, Haslemere, Surrey, UK; Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940); c.1905 at a Zurich bookseller's shop (in his 1935 work Par la révolution, la paix, Romain Rolland describes seeing the volume there thirty years earlier); Max Kalbeck (1850-1921), acquired 1895 from Antiquariat L. Liepmannssohn, Berlin: see RISM B VII, and also J. Wolf, Handbuch der Notationskunde (1919), vol.2, p.109